2:00PM Water Cooler 10/18/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, this Water Cooler is a bit light. In my defense, the news flow is a bit light. It feels bizarrely like mid-summer. Change my mind in comments! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Yellow-eyed Junco (Mexican), Rustler Park, Arizona, United States. I think I hear buzzing insects in the background.

* * *


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick

“The logic of the insult and the logic of scientific classification represent the two extreme poles of what a classification may be in the social world.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

Biden Administration

“Biden’s Plan for Next Pandemic Eyes Vaccine Supply Within 130 Days” [Bloomberg]. “President Joe Biden’s strategy for the next deadly pandemic calls for the US to produce a test for a new pathogen within 12 hours of its discovery and enough vaccine to protect the nation within 130 days.” • How about the deadly pandemic we’re in now? [bangs head on desk].

“Opinion: Ag companies’ loyalty programs unfairly extract profits from consumers” [Lina Khan, Des Moines Register]. “Last week, the Federal Trade Commission, where I am chair, partnered up with a bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general to file a lawsuit against two of the biggest pesticide manufacturers in the world, Syngenta and Corteva, accusing them of illegally blocking cheaper competitors from the market. This forces American farmers to pay many millions of dollars more every year for pesticides than they should, and ultimately raises the price of the food you eat. The scheme starts with patents. Companies like Syngenta and Corteva are in the business of inventing new active ingredients for pesticides. Each time they do, they get to patent that invention. A patent entitles an inventor to a 20-year period where only they are allowed to sell the invention. But there’s a compromise: Once the patent expires, anyone is free to bring a generic version into the market. That’s why when you have a headache, for example, you can choose between Tylenol and generic acetaminophen. When someone holds a patent they can generally charge high prices, given that nobody else can sell that product. But once the patent expires and generics come in, the original patent holder should have to compete with them, including on price. Syngenta and Corteva weren’t satisfied with this compromise. They wanted to keep raking in big profits even after the patents expired. To do that, our lawsuit alleges, each company plotted to cut farmers off from cheaper generic alternatives. In general, manufacturers don’t sell pesticides directly to farmers. They sell to distributors. Syngenta and Corteva realized that these distributors were a potential choke point. So they each launched ‘loyalty programs’ in which distributors who bought their products would receive large payments, styled as a rebate. The catch: If those middlemen distribute too many generic pesticides, they don’t get the money. In other words, distributors get paid to exclude generics.” • This is good (and I bet Stoller is happy). Do note the author, and the venue. I should have filed this under 2024, and in a good way.

This is good:

Given the scale of the Covid slaughter and the threat of nuclear war, hearing aids are a bit like Clinton’s pivot to school uniforms, but still, the benefit is real.

Lucy and her….


* * *

“Dems Barely Messaging On Economic Issues” [Lever News]. “Even as polling shows Americans’ top concern in the upcoming midterm is the economy, Democrats have barely amplified any message on the issue in their midterm House and Senate election advertising campaigns, according to new data reviewed by The Lever. Republican candidates and political groups have spent $44 million on TV ads focused on the economy and inflation since Labor Day, according to a tally from AdImpact, which tracks campaign spending throughout the country. In the same period, Democrats have spotlighted these issues in just $12 million worth of ads, less than 7 percent of the party’s total ad spending during that time. The party has put another $18 million into ads mentioning jobs and infrastructure — but overall, Republicans are significantly outspending them on messaging around economic issues.”

“How the Border Went MAGA” [New York Magazine]. “‘The Democrats have a really, really big Latino problem.’ It was the morning after Mexico-born Republican Mayra Flores won the June special election for a congressional seat in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, and longtime conservative strategist and co-founder of the Lincoln Project Mike Madrid was incensed by the seeming inattention of Democrats to one of the nation’s fastest-growing demographics. ‘The incompetence and the disregard, it’s infuriating,’ Madrid steamed on an emergency taping of his podcast, The Latino Vote. ‘This district that just flipped has been in Democratic control since 1870,’ he said, before noting it had the second-highest concentration of Latinos of ‘any congressional district in the entire country, okay?’ Losing a district like that constituted ‘a five-alarm fire for the Democrats heading into the November elections.’ Flores is a MAGA acolyte who once suggested the January 6 attack was ’caused by infiltrators’ and has frequently referenced QAnon on her Twitter account. Her election represented the culmination of a years-long trend: Despite Donald Trump’s endlessly hostile rhetoric toward Mexican immigrants — from labeling them ‘rapists’ in his 2016 campaign kickoff to reportedly calling for them to be shot on sight in 2019 — he made major gains across South Texas in the 2020 election, cutting the margin by which Joe Biden won the state’s border counties to 17 percentage points, half of the 33-point margin Hillary Clinton posted in 2016. ‘When you take voters for granted like national Democrats have done in South Texas for 40 years, there are consequences to pay,’ Congressman Filemón Vela told the Texas Tribune at the time; two years later, his retirement opened the door for Flores’s ascension. Trump’s surprising performance in South Texas had major down-ballot implications, including helping Republican Tony Gonzales win the massive congressional district that covers most of Texas’s border with Mexico, from the outskirts of El Paso to Del Rio.” • That’s a Latinx problem.

“Bernie Sanders says Democrats should have the ‘guts’ to court some Trump voters” [The Hill]. “‘What we need is a Democratic party that has the guts to stand up to them say, yeah, we’re going to take on the greed of the insurance companies and the drug companies and Wall Street. And I think if we do that some of those people, I’m not saying all, will say, you know what, I’m going to stand with the Democratic Party because on these economic issues, they’re far preferable to right wing Republicans,’ Sanders said on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.'” …. “[T]here are millions of people in this country, working class people who look at Washington and they say, you know what, I’m falling further and further behind. I can’t afford health care. I can’t afford to send my kids to college. I can’t afford the outrageous cost of prescription drugs. Who is listening to me?”

* * *

IA: “The Franken Campaign Was Doomed Even Before an Assault Allegation Shook the Race” [Politico]. “Iowa has long been thought of as one of the few purple states, oscillating between Republican and Democratic control. But that is changing, with most political offices at all levels more reliably red and with Republican presidential candidates winning the state by increasingly large margins over the past few elections. The expectation was that 2022 would be brutal for Democrats in a state where Biden polls terribly. Biden has never even won the majority of the Democrats in Iowa; he lost three attempts at the caucuses in 1988, 2008 and 2020. And midterms are typically bad for the party in power. As a result, funding from the Democratic Party has dried up, along with organizing infrastructure, and all the big names in the Iowa Democratic Party chose to sit this year out. As one Iowa lobbyist, who was granted anonymity because they were concerned about maintaining a positive working relationship with politicians in both parties, told me, “It’s the Iowa Democratic D-listers’ time to shine.'” What does that tell you about the “big names”? More: “For Democrats, the big moment could finally be here: An unpopular Supreme Court ruling, combined with an aging incumbent senator, has given Dems the first chance in a long time to flip a Republican seat in Iowa. But no one involved seems prepared, and in the weeks since, it’s become even clearer that the supposedly safe choice is anything but…. These problems are common when it comes to Democrats and rural states. After the 2010 midterms, Nancy Pelosi disbanded the House Democratic Rural Working Group. Later, Sen. Harry Reid dismantled the Senate’s rural outreach group, which facilitated Democratic messaging in rural areas. Even if they weren’t successful, the dismantling of the groups sent a signal that the Democratic National Committee was focusing on cities. In 2016, the Clinton campaign had only a single staff person doing rural outreach, and that staffer was assigned to the role just weeks before the election…”

“Fact Check: Did Jill Biden Get Booed at Eagles Game in Philadelphia?” [Newsweek]. • Looks at the various videos backing the claim. This one made it out of the right wing fever swamp as far as the Daily Mail, but no farther. I can’t get too excited, because Philly fans are notoriously and proudly fractious: “Yes, Philadelphia Eagles fans did throw snowballs at Santa Claus; here’s why ‘that guy had it coming’.


“October 12-13, 2022 – Harvard CAPS / Harris Poll” (PDF) [Harvard Harris Poll]. From Mark Penn, so not from some wild-eyed radical. This screen shot has been making the rounds, though generally viciously cropped by the Twitter:

The headline is bit deceptive, since the top four would include Sanders. The “Net” column is also interesting. The only net positives (green) are Mike Pence (good 1/6 press), Ron DeSantis, and Tim Scott (South Carolina Senator since 2013). That doesn’t bode well for the Democrats in 2024. Trump, Sanders, and Ted Cruz (!!) are net zero. Hillary Clinton and AOC aren’t doing well.

Democrats en Déshabillé

Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.

Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

* * *

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Wall Street Traders or Washington Officials? Sometimes It’s Hard to Tell” [Wall Street Journal]. “It’s the kind of rapid-fire trading you see on Wall Street: hundreds of stock-market wagers, sometimes peppered with options and other aggressive trades. But this wasn’t done on behalf of professional traders. The transactions came from about seven dozen senior federal-government officials who disclosed that they or their families each made more than 500 trades from 2016 through 2021. That totals more than 80,000 transactions while these officials worked in government. These officials accounted for roughly a quarter of all transactions while representing less than 1% of filers in a Wall Street Journal review of financial disclosures by federal officials.” • Ka-ching.


• “COVID-19 is Surging Locally and County Data Doesn’t Tell the Story” [Erie News Now]. “The latest data released by the Erie County Department of Health for the week from September 26 to October 9 shows 582 cases reported, with a daily average of 42 cases. There were 4 deaths reported between September 20 – 26. Dr. Nadworny said because so many people are testing for COVID-19 with home tests or not testing at all, because they believe they have only a cold or allergy symptoms, the data isn’t meaningful. County health officials agree, the data is not a definitive indicator of actual cases in Erie County. Nadworny’s early recognition that the virus is shed in our stools, and getting Erie involved in sewage testing for COVID through a company called Biobot is still paying off in giving a picture of how much virus is around locally, and he said it’s very high. ‘We don’t know that we have anything in the area other than the BA-5 family based on the Biobot variant testing as of the end of September, and yet we are seeing a huge surge,’ Dr. Nadworny said. And that’s really surprising to me, because usually when you have one variant you get a surge, it peaks and then it gradually goes down to be replaced by something else. And yet here we are with another surge coming that appears basically to be the same family.” • Hmm. Makes you wonder if BQ.1 is hiding in BA.5, and whether Biobot breaks it out (no, at least in their published data).

* * *

• “In New York, Masks Will Not Be Required at the Opera or Ballet” [New York Times].

Deborah Borda, the president and chief executive of the Philharmonic, said in an interview that the mask rules could change if the virus emerged as a deadly threat once again [(!!!!)]. ‘This is an ever-evolving situation,’ she said. ‘We will stay on top of whatever the current medical protocol dictates.’ But for now, she said, it is time to change focus. ‘We feel it’s important that we do our part to help the city return to a much more normal state of affairs,’ she said, ‘and to encourage people to come back into the city and to reinvigorate the economy.'”

The amazing doublethink: The same public relations process that will be used to get people to remask could also be used to get people to keep their masks on. So something other than “medical protocol” must be at work, eh?

• Well, there you have it:

* * *


Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission. (This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you.)

Lambert here: I have to say, I’m seeing more and more yellow and more blue, which continues to please. But is the pandemic “over”? Well….


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, October 16:


Readers, please click through on this, if you have a minute. Since Walgreens did the right thing, let’s give this project some stats.


Wastewater data (CDC), October 14:

October 11:


Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. Does nobody in the public health establishment get a promotion for tracking variants? Are there no grants? Is there a single lab that does this work, and everybody gets the results from them? Additional sources from readers welcome [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk].

Variant data, national (Walgreens), October 1:

Variant data, national (CDC), September 24 (Nowcast off):

• Seems familiar, like:


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,090,802 – 1,090,536 = 266 (266 * 365 = 97,090, which is today’s LivingWith™ number (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the LivingWith™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease.

It’s nice that for deaths I have a simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job.

For grins, here’s CDC’s excess deaths chart. From October 1:

I gave up running this chart because, from the unfixed errors in the caption, it was clear that nobody at CDC was looking at it, so that meant the algo could be off. There’s now an elaborate explanation of the methodology. Evaluating it is above my paygrade, but at least somebody looked at it. And there are still excess deaths. I don’t see how that can be, when the pandemic is over….

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Industrial Production” [Trading Economics]. “Industrial production in the United States increased 5.3 percent year-on-year in September 2022, the most since April, accelerating from an upwardly revised 3.9 percent advance in the previous month. Manufacturing output growth accelerated to 4.7 percent from 3.5 percent in August, due to a 6.0 percent jump in the production of durable manufacturing, led by motor vehicles and parts, fabricated metal products, machinery, and aerospace and miscellaneous transportation equipment.”

Capital Flows: “United States Net Treasury International Capital Flows” [Trading Economics]. “The United States recorded a capital and financial account surplus of USD 153.5 billion in July of 2022, widening from the upwardly revised USD 22.3 billion in the previous month.”

* * *

Energy: “Global pressures on natural gas markets are raising concerns in New England. The region’s power producers are preparing for potential strain on the grid this winter… as a surge in energy demand abroad threatens to reduce supplies they need to generate electricity” [Wall Street Journal]. “New England relies on imports to bridge winter supply gaps, and it is now competing with Europe for liquefied natural gas shipments following Russia’s halt of most pipeline gas to the continent. It is one sign of the disruption that Russia’s actions are triggering in fragile energy markets. Imports of LNG can make up more than a third of New England’s natural-gas supply during periods of peak demand because the region lacks pipeline capacity. Jones Act restrictions on vessel transports between U.S. ports makes maritime delivery of domestic supplies economically unviable, so the region relies on gas produced abroad.” • Wait, the Jones Act screws not only Puerto Rico but New England? What’s up with that?

Labor Force: “The total population of industrial robots in the world has reached an all-time high of 3.5 million, according to the International Federation of Robotics. That doesn’t count the growing number of ‘service’ robots, which basically encompasses every kind of robot that isn’t bolted to the floor, including delivery robots” [Wall Street Journal]. “The newest robots have mobility, vision and flexibility that hasn’t been possible in earlier automation. DHL Supply Chain has been testing Boston Dynamics’ Stretch robot in Memphis, Tenn., and plans to roll out 20 to 30 of them next year to unload trucks.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 35 Fear (previous close: 28 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 18 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 17 at 1:25 PM EDT. October, and no crash yet.

Zeitgeist Watch

Thanks, Obama!

Well, the phenomenon, whatever it is, does seem to start in 2008…. .

Class Warfare

“New York City files lawsuit against Starbucks over firing of employee Austin Locke, who started a union” [CBS]. “New York City has filed a lawsuit against Starbucks over the firing of an employee who started a union. Calling it a groundbreaking case, the Department of Consumer and Worker Production says Starbucks violated the city’s just cause protection.” • Good, but filing lawsuits isn’t the same as union power….

“Amazon workers in New York City win partial revival of COVID-19 safety lawsuit” [Reuters]. “Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) must face a claim that it failed to protect New York City warehouse workers and their families from COVID-19, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Tuesday while dismissing the bulk of the workers’ 2020 lawsuit. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York reversed a federal judge’s ruling that said only the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had the power to review complaints about Amazon’s workplace safety practices…. The case involves workers at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island that employs about 5,000 people and had become the company’s first unionized facility earlier this year. The union campaign was spurred by concerns over worker safety amid the pandemic.”

“Surplus” [The New Inquiry]. Excerpt from Health Communism (cf. the excellent Death Panel podcast). “The surplus, or surplus populations, can therefore be defined as a collective of those who fall outside of the normative principles for which state policies are designed, as well as those who are excluded from the attendant entitlements of capital. It is a fluid and uncertifiable population who in fact should not be rigidly defined, for reasons we discuss below. Crucially, this definition also elides traditional left conceptions of the working class or the “worker.” As we will describe at length throughout Health Communism, the idea that the worker is not a part of the surplus populations, yet faces constant threat of becoming certified as surplus, is one of the central social constructions wielded in support of capitalist hegemony. Similarly, the methods the state employs to certify delineations between surplus populations constitute effective tactics in maintaining this hegemony. An understanding of the intersectional demands of those subjected or excluded by capital constitutes the potential for building solidarity, which is definitionally a threat to capital. An understanding that the marking and biocertification of bodies as non-normative or surplus constitutes a false, socially constructed imposition of negative value is also a threat to capital. An understanding that illness, disability, and debility are driven by the social determinants of health, with capital as the central social determinant, itself constitutes such a threat. We argue therefore that in order to truly mount a challenge to capitalism it is necessary that our political projects have and maintain the surplus at their center. While the surplus population does contain those who are disabled, impaired, sick, mad, or chronically ill, the characteristic vulnerability of the surplus is not inherent to their existence—that is, it is not any illness, disability, or pathologized characteristic that itself makes the surplus vulnerable. Their vulnerability is instead constructed by the operations of the capitalist state. The precarity of the surplus population is made through what Ruth Wilson Gilmore calls “organized abandonment,” the deliberate manipulation and disproportionate dispossession of resources from Black, Brown, Indigenous, disabled, and poor communities, rendering them more vulnerable to adverse health.”

News of the Wired

“Phantom Forests: Why Ambitious Tree Planting Projects Are Failing” [Yale Environment360]. “Forest scientists say they are surprisingly frequent, and they warn that failed afforestation projects around the world threaten to undermine efforts to make planting a credible means of countering climate change by reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere or generating carbon credits for sale to companies to offset their emissions…. The causes of failure vary but include planting single species of trees that become vulnerable to disease; competing demands for the land; changing climate; planting in areas not previously forested; and a lack of aftercare such as watering saplings… But the very unanimity of support for tree planting may reduce the impetus for detailed audits or critical analysis of what is actually achieved at each project. The paucity of follow-up thus far has resulted in a great deal of wasted effort – and money.” • Planting a tree is not the same as growing a forest….

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From Amechania’s cousin:

Amechania writes: “No sense crediting it, because my cousin took it. From the state of Colorado, up in the mountains.” First frost?

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Rice

      Democrats are Demolishing our economy.
      Homelessness could be resolved for 1/3 of what we’ve sent to the Ukrainian money laundering operation.

  1. petal

    Yes, can confirm GOP spending on ads targeting economy. In NH, they are focusing on that, whilst the D’s are abortion practically 24-7. Very, very recently like in the past week, Hassan has had an ad playing on YT touting her “working across the aisle”. Have seen a couple new yard signs made by the Grafton Co. D’s saying that “Reproductive rights are on the ballot”.

    1. Joe Renter

      Here in Las Vegas , the broadcast TV and YouTube’s are very thick of adds since this is a major up for grabs state. GOP is all about the dems cashing in on stock trades and voting with Bidens radical agenda (what ?). The dems are about abortion. Can’t wait for this sh*t show to be over. So much money spent on these adds. Just think of what you could do with those funds. Side note, lots of folks getting evicted due to rising rents. Local tv station said 500 a day are evicted. This is not a good place to be homeless.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Bidens radical agenda (what ?).

        This is just “not one of us” messaging. Team Blue types have never really grasped they would all be in labor camps if the GOP elites thought they could get away with it.

        When they decry that they aren’t “radical”, they simply show weakness in the eyes of the GOP.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Some of the Republican anti-Hassan ads are making it across the border to Maine TV and they are hammering her and the Democrat party on economic issues. Of course they aren’t proposing any of their own solutions, but that’s US politics for you.

      1. petal

        lab, I figure all they have to do is ask “Are you better or worse off than you were x years ago?”

  2. Robert Hahl

    re: Bitcoin Fails To Produce 1 Block For Over An Hour Coindesk

    This story from earlier today sounds like big news even if droughts like this are expected once in a while. Would there be any outside effects on the financial system if the price of electricity caused bitcoin mining to simply stop?

    1. hunkerdown

      BTC’s dynamic “difficulty level” was eased about a week ago, and yet here we are.


      Miners also validate the network’s transactions. “Assets” could be stranded without miners on the network.

      The real question is whether BTC mining is cheaper than Larry Summers’ existence.

    1. ambrit

      Cross reference that with the backlog of LNG ships offshore at Europe and there’s an indirect sign of where the formerly disposable income has gone. America is paying for its ginned up war in the Ukraine by decreasing the standards of living of their lower 99% population, and diverting said funds to Big Business.
      Heretical idea: Buy up the older containers no longer needed for importing s— into America and making basic homeless shelters out of them. Set those ‘dwellings’ up in unused military bases across America to supply basic services. Employ the ‘clients’ in CCC type programs.
      Having trouble completing reforestation projects? The HCCC (Homeless Civilian Conservation Corps) is here to help! Or, set up a Camp at the former site of Area 51 in the California desert and use the HCCC workers to build the biggest solar electric project in Known Space!
      All it needs is political will. Whoever successfully promotes that agenda will rule America for a generation.

      1. Tom Pfotzer

        Ambrit: I’ve seen this sort of idea show up several times from around the political compass.

        A friend of mine is working on the idea of using containers for shelter, designing a cheap, fast-to-build, easy-to-maintain village of homesteads that have solar power, common well, insulated-container homes with patio-space, community center (workshop, entertainment, food cold-storage), and community greenhouses.

        More or less all the stuff you need to run a household on a few dollars a day.

        It’s all well-known; nothing else needs to be invented. Once the pain threshold gets crossed, and somebody builds the first one, it’ll go.

        1. ambrit

          Good on that friend of yours. Perhaps this is like political “change.” The ones prepared and ready to go get the “head start” and prosper.
          There were one or two films with that theme out of Hollywood in the early days of the great Depression 1.0, but they were quickly suppressed as “bad for business” by the moguls running the motion picture industry then. Terran human nature is pretty constant over the centuries.
          See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Daily_Bread_(1934_film)

  3. Bsn

    Yo, Peeps. Does anyone with more experience think that as Russia reduces The Ukraine’s energy capabilities, will the newest Russian regions (Donbas, etc.) be able to receive power from Russia itself? This energy grid map ….. https://www.moonofalabama.org/14i/ukrenet2.jpg … that is posted on MoA’s site this day shows arrows from Luhansk (for example) into Russia so I’m assuming that the power can travel both ways. I can’t imagine Russia would cut off it’s nose to spite it’s face. What a mess. As Rodney King mentioned “Why can’t we all just get along?”

    1. Raymond Sim

      I don’t know anything about the grid, but the Russkies are big on portable power sources, up to and including nuclear reactors on barges (not that one of those would be a good idea in this case).

    2. Polar Socialist

      Until February this year Ukrainian grid was connected to Russian grid – all of it was constructed in the Soviet times. They did have a plan to transfer over to EU grid next year, but since EU grid companies were… suspicious about the Ukrainian grid (instabilities are a bad thing in a grid), Ukraine temporarily disconnected from Russia grid to prove theirs is a stable one. Since Russia invaded during the test, Ukraine never reconnected back to Russian grid.

      That said, ever since Lenin said in December 22 1920 that “communism is electrification of the whole country”, Ukraine has received power from Russia. For example, when Ukrainian shelling cuts the lines of Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, they get the emergency power from Crimean power plants.

    3. ambrit

      Once the Zap Atomic Power complex is put back in working order, it will generate much of the “new” Russian oblasts’ needs.
      I wonder about the potential for wind power on the Ukrainian steppes.
      If the Russians end up controlling the Dnipro River, all those hydroelectric plants will be included in the Neo Eastbloc energy mix.

  4. t

    I didn’t take the time to check dem voting in the countries mentioned, but judging by the following link Sander’s staff did and these area is part of the border and west Texas region that Bernie won in the Dem primary that then were won by Trump when Dems stayed home rather than vote Biden in the general.

    And Iowa. Good lord.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I didn’t take the time to check dem voting in the countries mentioned, but judging by the following link Sander’s staff did and these area is part of the border and west Texas region that Bernie won in the Dem primary that then were won by Trump when Dems stayed home rather than vote Biden in the general.

      Yes, Sanders won those counties, and the Democrat regulars promptly squandered the advantage.

  5. Mildred Montana

    >”Well, the phenomenon [of sexless young people], whatever it is, does seem to start in 2008…”

    Good observation, Lambert.

    And beside “Thanks Obama”, I think young people everywhere should give a shout-out (or shut-up) to Ben “Green Shoots” Bernanke, whose hovering helicopter dumped trillions on the banks while ultimately making the purchase or rental of a nest so expensive that young people just gave up on any hope of filling that nest.

    No nest, no nookie.

      1. hunkerdown

        Who among them can afford one?

        Then again, asexuality wasn’t too serious of a movement until Obama (AVEN was founded in 2001, IIRC). Also, it is common that societies that celebrate predation adopt puritanical attitudes toward sex as something “inimical to the hunt; bodies that have had anything to do with reproductive processes give off a scent that disturbs animals and drives them away.” (Graeber)

        Aside, 14 years of the blues could explain the PMC’s increasing shrillness.

        1. ambrit

          “Vote Blues, no matter whose.”
          This message bought to you by JAPE, the Jackpot Appreciation Party Engram.
          “So if you give them a short, sharp, shock, they won’t do it again.”

            1. ambrit

              Oh, I riffed on the idea from an obscure Blue Oyster Cult song, “Flaming Telepaths,” which contains the chorus; “And the joke’s on you!”
              Besides, having gone to High School in a heavily Abrahamic area, the term JAP has certain, shall we say, connotations.
              I must observe that much of what passes for anti-semitism in America is really economic class division in action. One of the features of the socio-economic realities of life in said “Abrahamic” area was the near indistinguishability of the Abrahamic and WASPy upper economic cohorts. They acted in very similar fashions.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Bernanke is bad, but young people voted against George W. Bush. Obama kept Bernanke on. Bernanke is something of a small player.

      Like Biden’s problems with Powell, it seems like the best course of action was not to empower the appointees of Bush/Trump by reappointing the picks of people described as “the worst president”.

    2. Bugs

      Worth noting that Facebook started to really take off then. I think that’s when they changed the timeline. It was relatively benign in the first two years.

  6. Roger Blakely

    RE: COVID-19 Surging in Erie County.

    BA.5 doesn’t give a rat’s butt about your immunity. If you get hit with enough of it at once, you will be knocked on your keister.

  7. Screwball

    Dem messaging; Press secretary today was citing lower gas prices in the last few months. I don’t think that will get them much, and I don’t know how they can tout or talk about the economy when so many people are feeling the pain. Face it Dems – you r screwed.

    “October 12-13, 2022 – Harvard CAPS / Harris Poll”

    I’m lost as how they have favorable ratings that high. Most of them suck beyond comprehension, and many should be in jail. Great choices. /s Carlin was right, again.

    1. Art Vandalay

      I was surprised and disappointed that they left The Great Pete Buttigieg ™ off the list of notables. As one who has never been able to see the appeal, to put it mildly, I’m really curious about his favorable/unfavorables, particularly when Kamala appears primed to continue her unbroken streak of epic failure.

      1. Screwball

        Good observation. Easy to miss in that list of deplorable,s. :-)

        But it’s not funny. It’s where we are.

        1. JBird4049

          Actually, I am worried about Mike Pence’s numbers being so favorable; brains, looks, discipline, and a Fundamentalist of an extreme bent. No Sermon on the Mount for him. A man who has heard of Edward Bernays and George Creel. I think of him as being the Hillary Clinton of the Right, but without her ego and more focused on the mission.

          I remember commenting on the power struggle between factions of the Democrats and Republicans; there are probably three major ones who have two major billionaire factions using them. The PMC/Big Finance/Security State/Rump Republicans, the Trumpists with the local police and party members support, and those who don’t like either one, perhaps including the coalescing Conservative Nationalists. (Really, it doesn’t matter if you are a leftist, liberal, or conservative with the current “elites.” You might try to create a replacement faction.)

          The neoliberal billionaires who are mostly for the Great Reset and its “ You’ll own nothing and you’ll be happy.” Happiness Brave New World style. The PMC and the Woken Ones are the tools. The National Security State with it 17 agencies is enmeshed with them. Do note that the Constitution does not apply to the Border Patrol anywhere with in a hundred miles of the boarder. All the borders including international airports.

          The extreme libertarian Kochists who think that the latifundium should be considered an example of a good society. I would consider the Christian Nationalists as a subset of them. I could add the Alt-Right White Nationalists as a further subunit, but despite the endemic racism in America, the old school Southern Slavocracy is not that strong. Too many people are for some form of civil rights for everyone, but if the people using the Professional Managerial Class continue with the deliberate impoverishment of the bottom 80% and with help of the allied National Security State crush the growing leftist and conservative populist movements, that will change. America is like Jekyll and Hyde that way. Appeal to the Shining City on the Hill, a Crusade of the Good, or watch the Nightriders and other like them bring out the guns and the noose.

          The corporations are going to support anyone who will guarantee stability and profits.

          The national Democratic and Republican nomenklatura that gain and lose power with the elections.

          There supporters in the apparatchiks.

          And the various urban, suburban, and country aristocrats and gentry who are probably trying to pretend that they are not on the elites’ menu, and that the proles regardless of personal ideology will not have a chance at long pork.

          Going back to Mike Pence and his Christian Nationalists with their bases in the police, Air Force, security state (think FBI and Border Patrol), and some in the army and marines with the money of the extractive and construction industries, the more conservative Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex members all supplying the money.

          The Left is anyone who is economically adjacent to Richard Nixon and Dwight Eisenhower’s Republican Party (this is not hyperbole) or for the rule of law as done in the 1970s; nobody in the ruling factions composing the ruling class, the henchmen, and even their minions want the “Left” or even an honest conservative movement because it would not only mean the loss of the perks of running things, it could mean prison, maybe the dock at The Hague.

          Pence’s faction is probably not powerful enough to outright take over, but they are the most likely kingmakers and Pence is an excellent candidate for frontman, leaving the Christian Nationalists in control. If they can’t get enough concessions for that, then they will get concessions that will better place them for the next time. The destruction of honest or effective opposition especially from the left, but also the right as well, will be part of whatever deals are made.

          If WW III does not happen, then my guesstimate is checkmate in 2024 or 2028. Just really putting myself out there, it’s President Pence and perhaps Vice President Harris in 2028. But she is a ambitious fool, maybe it will be the other way around. Nobody has to obey the President if the Praetorian Guard Secret Service is minding her. If the Senate remains close and Kamala Harris has reality “explained” to her, say she actually loves someone or she has done a Ghislaine Maxwell, I will add 2026. There is so much one can do with a (Vice) Presidential puppet. A national unity coalition with the PMC-Security State, and compromised or bought off National Conservatives-Gentry-Aristocrats as frontmen backed up by Christian Nationalists who may, or may not, be first among equals; the actual ruling coalition will likely be New World Order fools and “Conservative” money is speech thugs. It will not just be the money, it will also depend on who has the best pseudo militaries aka death squads. “Power from the Barrel of a Gun” (Study American history: when it gets bad everyone gets violent regardless of ideology. Bombs as well as guns.)

          And now that I have laid this all out, I feel ill.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Mike Pence’s numbers being so favorable; brains, looks, discipline, and a Fundamentalist of an extreme bent. No Sermon on the Mount for him. A man who has heard of Edward Bernays and George Creel. I think of him as being the Hillary Clinton of the Right, but without her ego and more focused on the mission.

            Plus, Pence didn’t “get in the car.” That means (a) he’s no dummy, and (b) he may have — gawd help us all if true — a degree of personal integrity.

            Idea for new party name: “National Capitalists.”

  8. JBird4049

    >>>Given the scale of the Covid slaughter and the threat of nuclear war, hearing aids are a bit like Clinton’s pivot to school uniforms, but still, the benefit is real.

    Yes, now if they will just make going to the audiologist affordable. This is like having affordable eyeglasses, but without being able to have eye exams as like with eyesight, hearing and comprehension often needs more than simply blasting the sound.

    1. Tom Stone

      I bought a pair of good quality obsolescent hearing aids 2 years ago, $1,600 plus $250 to have them adjusted by an audiologist.
      Call around, I was quoted $750 twice, $500 once and $250.
      All board certified audiologists and the one I chose also sells the batteries for cost, about a 50% savings over a Safeway sales price.

      1. JBird4049

        Yes, there are ways to get properly fitted for hearing aids that are less than two thousand dollars, and this is good, but I am thinking of the many Americans who do not have even five hundred dollars.

        Getting hearing aids and eyeglasses should be a low hassle, low or no expense, two trip chore. Being able to hear and see are necessities that should not be left to free market capitalism.

  9. semper loquitur

    A request: I’m looking to purchase a stash of emergency ration bars. There are a lot of options out there. Does anyone have any recommendations? I’d appreciate it!

  10. Roger Blakely

    RE: Sexless young men falling; sexless young women rising.

    What happened? YouTube happened. Guys asked, “Why do these dating apps suck so badly?” Guys got wise. Now guys are adjusting and getting sex outside of the dating apps.

    Women got wise. For some women getting pumped-and-dumped by Chad and Tyrone lost its charm.

    This week the Black Manosphere made it to Newsweek because the Dems have a black man problem.

    1. amechania

      Its not just the lack of homes but lack of physical interactions. Hooking up is still not possible on zoom. Instead of bowling or book clubs people are meeting online, which is great for niche interests but not for other things.

      1. Roger Blakely

        The problem is what we call the 80/20 rule. It’s actually the 95/5 rule. Women are only interested in the top 4.5% of guys, the tallest (height is most important), richest (money comes second), and best-looking guys. In fact, women are throwing themselves at these guys. Women will tolerate attention from guys in the top 20%. Women want nothing to do with the guys in the bottom 80%. Ordinary men don’t stand a chance in today’s society.

          1. Polar Socialist

            Well, since only 20% of the male population is able to breed, it clearly follows that we are experiencing both a population bottleneck (unless these super-males have reproduction rate over 11) and a strong genetic drift towards all males having the genotype of the top 20% (so we should all be 6’1 and over).

            Should be easy to observe, especially if it’s been going on for multiple generations.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        I blame the apps, although I may be misinformed having been long out of the dating game and never having used one. Back in the day, one way to meet people was to go out, have an adult beverage, and talk to people. These days, especially among the younger generation, striking up a conversation with someone who hasn’t been pre-approved via online app first seems to be a no-no and could get you labeled as a stalker. The kids these days do seem to love their “safe spaces”.

      3. Questa Nota

        What young person wants to be cancelled for some random BS reason by some random BS person? Avoid social media when at all possible, have witnesses.

        There are real costs to all of that unleashed fury, and the destruction of trust and rending of the social fabric. Agency got lost in the process, but yet may find its way home again.

    2. Kurtismayfield

      Don’t forget the labeling of men who are “Toxic” and the ones that are not financially viable enough for the modern woman. They are self limiting their dating pool right off the bat.

    3. Anthony G Stegman

      I think another causal factor for diminished sex drives is sheer exhaustion. Today’s lifestyles and all of the attendant stresses suck the energy out of people. The libido is one of the first casualties. Dating websites suck for a variety of reasons, not least is the prevalence of scammers as well as the fake profiles the sites keep up in order to deceive subscribers. In addition, the general lack of sex drives leads to less motivation to seriously date, and so those who still have a sex drive find it more and more difficult to get dates. Eventually they give up trying since banging your head against a wall gets you only headaches. On the other hand, in a greatly over-populated world less sex may be a very good thing if it results in less pregnancies overall. For increasing numbers of people there is more to life than sex. :)

    4. chris

      So that is an interesting opinion. What basis do you have for saying the dating apps suck? I admit I’ve never used them, I met my wife in college, but I have a number of friends who married the people they met using these apps. I also have older relatives who enjoy companionship from people they met on sites like SilverSingles. What makes you think they’re bad?

      1. hunkerdown

        I don’t deny the possibilty that some niche dating sites, run as a labor of love by a close-knit team, might deliver consistently good results to their users given a large enough database. But the big freemium dating sites are subject to that fundamental contradiction between user objectives (having found a long-term partner) and user engagement (time spent finding a long-term partner). So there are twists, some of which are hostile to the user completing their business.

        For instance, some sites may pad their database with fake women’s profiles, as famously exposed in Ashley Madison’s database dump (CBS News). Others design their UX around more casual lifestyle encounters (Grindr, Tinder, etc.). Yet others keep helping couples connect for various purposes from swing dancing to swinging (OKcupid tried this IIRC). Some subvert the male-as-hunter paradigm and force the man and his profile to wait for the woman to open the conversation (Bumble).

        I haven’t paid for any of them, so I don’t know whether the customer’s willingness to put cash on the barrel head changes any of those equations or removes obstacles from the process.

        1. chris

          Huh. I guess that explains the number of my well off friends paying thousands of dollars for matchmaking services.

          I guess I don’t know what I’d do if I had to date these days. It’s been decades since I was on the market. Good thing I’m married!

        2. Acacia

          whether the customer’s willingness to put cash on the barrel head changes any of those equations

          N=1 here, but having tried both paid and freetard dating apps in the past, I found the freetard apps seemed to be full of bored people who weren’t terribly serious about actually meeting up. Most of conversations just fizzled out quickly. The paid apps yielded a lot more substantive contact and many actual dates. And although it was certainly possible to meet people and get dates, finding somebody you might meet for a second or third date was a challenge.

          By far the worst part was reading the profiles to find somebody you might want to approach. So many were either mostly empty, completely vague, and else contained lists of requirements and/or paragraphs of “no!” restrictions. Some were unreal. There was a period of months in which scanning these profiles evoked repeated moods of depression about the expectations of the opposite sex. It took time to get past this. I did eventually meet a wonderful person, though. :)

          I would say the suckage of these some of these apps has a lot to do with how they filter and/or allow people to create profiles that are going to kill your mood upon reading.

  11. IM Doc

    Biden planning to have testing ready in 12 HOURS and a vaccine ready within 130 days…….

    My God, these people have really learned nothing at all. At this point, we are beyond hubris.

    There is simply no way on this earth to have mass testing ready in 12 hours for any new contagion. That is just not possible. Please remember, it literally took months and into a year for the USA to get up to testing appropriately for COVID and even then it was fraught with problems.

    Unless of course, it is a contagion that you have created yourself and have been studying and getting supplies ready for weeks/months before you release it. Is that going to be the nature of the next pandemic, President Biden? Is that what you are trying to say? I can think of really no other reasonable explanation for this kind of talk regarding a timing goal. If any of the commenters can, please share. I am all ears.

    Furthermore, it appears that all of the lessons that should have been learned about vaccinating into a pandemic have been completely ignored or forgotten. And it has not even been 2 years. Vaccinating into a pandemic caused by a highly mutable highly contagious virus is not a good idea. We have known this for decades. We are proving it right now. In those situations, the vaccination program should be saved for the years-long mop up operations in the highly vulnerable after the acute pandemic is over.

    If somehow, we are able in the future to construct a vaccine that is truly sterilizing and has a good safety profile, then we should reconsider this. Currently, we are not there by a long shot. Importantly, there is no way these determinations could EVER be done in 130 days. There are several virus families in which this approach may be reasonable. Highly mutable rapidly contagious RNA respiratory viruses are not in that group, at least today, with our current understanding of viruses and immunology.

    I am not trying to be a jerk, facts are facts.

    I have said this before and I will say it again. VACCINES ALONE can never ever be the only answer in a pandemic. This is particularly so in a pandemic with a highly mutable contagion. It just simply does not work that way.

    This kind of talk is an indication that somewhere down the line our leaders have truly gone off the rails. This is really getting scary.

    1. Raymond Sim

      This kind of talk is an indication that somewhere down the line our leaders have truly gone off the rails. This is really getting scary.

      And we get it on every topic of importance. The stuff for public consumption!

      I fear this is the ‘crackpot realism’ of an elite in its terminal, self-destroying phase. It’s terrifying to ponder what this means for my grandchildren.

    2. Anthony G Stegman

      Biden is a lifelong politician. The mid-terms are approaching. His personal approval ratings are low. He fancies himself as a two term president. Everything he utters is for political purposes primarily, whether its hitting China hard on semiconductors (must look “tough” on China), COVID response (must look like he’s doing something, even if it is mostly nothing), releasing oil from the oil reserve (gotta make it look like I’m tackling high gasoline prices), and so on. Biden’s people surely must know that there is no way testing can be available within 12 hours. It doesn’t matter because the utterances from Biden are mostly for show.

  12. NotTimothyGeithner

    Biden had added marijuana to his day 1 lets promise to be super serious this time agenda. This is the covering their a@@ phase of the campaign. We promised stuff. See here it is…right here.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      And now they are notifying millions of student borrowers they don’t need to apply for forgiveness. It seems like that should have been a no brainer.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      These politicians are like children and should be treated as such.

      My kid wants privileges and doesn’t like responsibilities much, like most kids. Having been burned a few times by giving out the privileges with no follow through after the fact with the responsibilities, now privileges are granted once pets are fed and homework is done.

      The Democrat party can have my vote after I get the $600.00 they still owe me. Until then, [family blog] off.

      1. Tom Stone

        I see the behavior of Politicians to be more akin to the behavior of Addicts and Alcoholics.
        Wet and dry alcoholics, the dry ones can be something special in a really bad way.

    3. Delmarvapen

      Decriminalizing simple possession of marijuana, is meaningless, no one charged with that by feds anyway.
      Add that to more broken promises:

      Increase minimum wage to $15, it’s still half that in Alabama
      Cancel student debt
      End Covid, with more than a soundbyte
      Codify Roe, they have a supermajority, so when’s it supposed to happen?
      Peace dividend, 70 Billion shoveled into the Ukrainian furnace so far?
      Your family next, if they are lucky and get vaporized. Otherwise you’ll have to do mercy killing, if you can.
      Inexpensive pharmaceuticals from Canada.
      Reduce domestic drug prices.
      Free Pre-school.
      Free student lunches.
      Immigration reform.
      60,000 singin’ along side by side…“Fuck Joe Biden”,

      I hope Putin kicks ass quickly to obliterate the globalists pulling the Bidenscarecrow’s strings.

  13. albrt

    Lambert, it has been bugging me that the “Centers for Disease” appellation truncates the acronym and does not quite capture the agency’s mission.

    How about Centers for Disease Communication? I think it captures the dual mandate of the agency quite well – communicating administration propaganda about diseases while maximizing the actual communication of disease.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Lambert, it has been bugging me that the “Centers for Disease” appellation truncates the acronym and does not quite capture the agency’s mission.

      As far as mission… Well, they’re not against Disease, are they?

      I don’t think it’s a matter of mere “communication.” In my view, CDC actively spreads disease* (whether with intent or not is hard to say, but it’s hard to look at what Walensky and Jha did for their own children, and compare it to the policies they advocate for others, argues strongly in favor of malevolence).

      NOTE * More precisely, denies people information they need to protect themselves.

    1. bassmule

      “This is the old Imperial ‘sin’. Expecting, and insisting on deference, whilst transmitting inherent weakness. Washington and its allies are trying to compel servility on all fronts. Yet the bellicose rhetoric is backfiring – states progressively have lost their trepidation vis á vis Washington.”

      Isn’t there anyone who can get Biden to stop making threats and shut up?

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Biden says you are a rona-ridden nut humper. And that he can do 187 chinups with his eyes closed and if you can’t match that you’re a noodle armed reprobate. You are lucky he doesn’t take you out back to the boardhouse and teach you a lesson you’ll never forget (although he will), like he did to Corn Pop.

      2. Tom Stone

        Biden is doing more than just making threats domestically as well as internationally.
        The Sabotage of NS1 and NS2 was a breathtakingly stupid betrayal of Western Europe and an act of War against several parties.
        Assange is likely to spend the rest of his life in one prison or another for publishing evidence of US War Crimes.
        Howzabout that Mar A Lago raid?
        On a Billionaire Ex President and conducted by personnel who were compromised by their prior behavior.
        It’s sorta like Joe’s “Nobody Eff’s with a Biden” pervades the Administration, there’s utterly reckless and aggressive behavior across the board.
        It’s scary as all get out even without the Center for Disease Communication adding to the insanity.
        Can anyone contend that the CDC’s actions during the pandemic have been rational?
        Have they ever recommended a course of action sane and responsible adults would have chosen?

        I miss things like the 1st Amendment and Habeas Corpus some days..

        1. ambrit

          A hypothetical: The Russian General Staff calls up the American Joint Chiefs of Staff and parleys a bit. Russia will nuke the White House and the Capitol Building when Congress is in session and then sit back and let the Pentagon straighten America out however it wishes. Doable, simple, corrective.
          Or, the Russians say something like, “You invoke your 25th Amendment and we won’t nuke anyone. Okay?” Call it a “Seven Days in May-dan” strategy.

    1. Lou Anton

      I only saw the pictures, didn’t read the articles…those kids were going for a Van Gogh + Warhol Campbells Soup live mashup, right? Performance art rules!

    2. The Rev Kev

      Just wait until a climate activist goes after a statue in a museum with a hammer and chisel. It has been done before.

      1. Wukchumni

        (Soft knocks at the museum door)

        Chong: Who is it?
        Michelangelo: It’s me, David. Open up, man, I got the stuff.

  14. Tom Doak

    I enjoyed that they included Vladimir Putin at the bottom of the poll of politicians’ favorability . . . presumably to protect Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell [each at minus-22] from taking the title of most hated politician.

    Also, Mayo Pete was nowhere to be found. I wonder if he is bumming out about that . . . or whether he paid them to bury his results.

    1. katiebird

      That’s the year my parents bought the house I grew up in! It was a 4 bedroom but I think it cost a little more than that. So there was some variety.

  15. Anthony G Stegman

    Regarding the failures with tree planting, based on my own experience volunteering for a non-profit that plants trees in suburban settings the two biggest reasons for trees not making it to maturity are the lack of follow on care such as watering, and vandalism. Of the trees I’ve helped plant over a number of years more than a third are gone – they died from neglect, were poisoned by nearby property owners who dislike trees, or were vandalized by your garden variety miscreants. Some people have openly stated they dislike trees because they attract birds who then sing in the morning which disturbs them. Yes, there are people like this among us.

    1. Max FUFSF

      Four or three posts 8′ tall, a ground to crown ring of 1/2″ hardware cloth, with a small gap to clear litter out from under the tree, loose rubber strips from all four or 3 sides, 2″ steel pipe, hammered to a wedge shape to help it enter ground on curb side, aided by sledge hammer. Tree planted in a root guard to divert roots straight down then sideways, no sidewalk damage. Then assign boy scouts to assure it’s watered every week for the first year or rainy season. I have planted hundreds of street trees in urban areas and 80% have survived with that kind of planting more than 30 years.

      As building permit condition, 25 gallon box trees must be planted in ground in front of houses. If tree dies, replacement at owner expense tacked onto property tax bill.

    2. hk

      A lot of trees are planted where they actively pose danger, at least in my neighborhood, by obscuring pedestrians in crosswalks and cars making turns and coming out of parking lots. I don’t think people are unjustified in hating at least some tree placements.

  16. Jason Boxman

    We need to punish the working class for something that they might do!

    Officials are afraid that if they allow fast inflation to linger, it will become a permanent feature of the American economy. Workers might ask for bigger wage increases each year if they think that costs will steadily increase. Companies, anticipating higher wage bills and feeling confident that consumers will not be shocked by price increases, might increase what they’re charging more drastically and regularly.

    (bold mine)

    Best they starve to death, instead. There will always be more workers, after all!

    Increasingly it seems like the possibility of a mild recession next year is turning into the likelihood of a severe recession or a Biden depression. I can’t wait!

    And there is little evidence, so far, that the Fed’s policy is working to tamp down price increases. Fed moves take time to play out, but their effects are already pretty clear in overall economic data: The housing market is slowing sharply, demand is beginning to pull back and people are eating into their savings stockpiles. Yet prices have shown little reaction to those trends.

    Well, we merely must exhaust that saving option. As people start to stave and get turned out of their rental units, the cost of food, gas, shelter, and so forth will decline.


    1. Federal

      Don’t be silly, what do you think 2.5 million, just this year, “migrants” are for; to hammer down wages, keep rents high and create markets for more crap and most importantly, debt.

      If we had net zero immigration, population would be stable, or dropping, rents would plunge, more resources, classrooms, college seats and workers would be able to demand and get a higher percentage of the lower corporate profits. Drugs would be more scarce and more expensive. Also, $150 billion a year would remain in our local economies to be spent over and over and taxed instead of being sent out of the country.

      1. marym

        Link for 2.5M migrants just this year? Sometimes this number is confused with number of border encounters (many of whom are turned back) and sometimes it’s not clear whether a reference is to illegal or legal entries. Thanks.

  17. Clark

    –“Sitting in doc[‘]s office with no one in a mask. … ‘To each his own,’ I was told.”–

    I heard something very similar when I saw my primary for the first time in over a year. He had left his corporate practice for ‘concierge medicine.’ I’ve been his patient for over 20 years and leapt at the chance to spend some extra time on my first serious check-up in his new domain.

    His new office was in a “complex” attached to a hospital, much like his old digs. I was greeted on entry by his nurse, which was nice, but I immediately noticed she wasn’t wearing any kind of mask. I was wearing an Aura N95, since I assumed that a doctor’s office would require masking and I wanted to protect myself and others in a place where sick people are routine visitors. But I was so stunned that I didn’t say anything until she took me to the exam room. A paraphrase of her response:

    “We don’t require them because the CDC allows each medical practice to make its own choice. But we won’t judge you. They are required in the hospital because of the CDC.”

    When my doctor came in (unmasked, natch), we exchanged hearty greetings, as I consider him almost a friend. Since he was out of Big Med, he had more than five minutes to talk; we spent about ten minutes talking about my recent outdoorsy and physically demanding vacation. (We both could see the unspoken clinical value in this pleasant exchange.)

    I asked him about this mask thing. He said that in his practice lately, he’d had “very few admits” because of Covid, and in his opinion it was “just a cold” for most people. Upon further questioning, he said that the really bad outcomes had been from Delta, and Omicron was not nearly as bad. Was dismissive of Long Covid. Seemed completely cheerful while we shared air.

    I find his attitude astonishing. Although it’s hard to find a good PCP these days — and I have a long history with my available ‘IM Doc,’ who has in fact saved my life before — I am really out of sorts about this. Not what I was expecting and definitely demoralizing.

  18. chris

    Flying from DC area to Boston tonight. Only 4 people on my flight of 100 were masked besides me. None of the flight crew were masked. This was Jet Blue which brags that its on board HVAC has an integral HEPA filter. I still kept my mask on the whole time. The state of repair of my seat made me wonder how good the filters are…

    1. lambert strether

      > The state of repair of my seat made me wonder how good the filters are…

      Good heuristic!

  19. tegnost

    Going a bit left field here, when I think about bonds I think the count of monte cristo, and when looking around I stumbled on this…

    In the suggestions for further consumption…”the latest” I saw an article titled “silicon valley is starting to cave to European regulators” (notable is which entity is in presented in proper caps)

    How many regulators will be left after “Europe” is disrupted?

    My theory might be full of holes, but the piece on Dumas is great, and I love the photo at the top.

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